Category Archives: Lebanon

Thieves Are Puncturing AUB Students’ Gas Tanks To Steal Fuel

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punc How a punctured fuel tank looks like – Source

Finding a parking spot was always a problem back in my AUB years, but I don’t recall ever hearing about fuel thefts and I am surprised that these things are happening right outside the campus on AUB’s seaside. According to a friend of mine and Outlook AUB’s article, fuel thefts began back in September but became more frequent in the past few weeks. Six cars have already been targeted and two students claimed their car’s fuel tank was punctured twice.

I think this is a very serious problem for two reasons:
Makhfar Ras Beirut (Previously known as Makhfar Hbeich) is located on Bliss Street and there are always police bike patrols on the sea side, so such incidents should not happen very often. Since AUB cannot guarantee parking to its students, the administration should work closely with the authorities to set up cameras along the sea side and provide better security for their students. The Dean of Students Affairs, Talal Nizameddin has already stated the need to cooperate with the police to stop these crimes.

– Punctured gas tanks are a threat to the driver and people around him as they may lead to a fire or even an explosion specially if it’s a huge leak. Some of the students interviewed in Outlook reported driving for some time before realizing their tank was punctured but luckily none of the cars caught fire.

This being said, stricter safety measures have to be implemented the soonest in order to avoid any tragic outcome. Setting up cameras is a necessity but until it’s done, bike and car patrols should be doubled and I recommend that students take a quick look at their fuel tanks before they drive off for their own safety.

I hope they catch these criminals the soonest! Here’s a [link] to the Outlook AUB’s article written by Lama Miri.

A number of AUB students recently reported finding their cars with punctured fuel tanks emptied of gas, as their vehicles were parked on AUB’s seaside. With insurance not covering the expenses of the repairs, students were forced to pay bills of up to $1,050. Meanwhile, the perpetrators are still at large, and authorities have yet to take adequate preventative measures.

Among the targeted vehicles were three different Nissan cars, a Honda, a Renault, and a Peugeot. The fuel thieves clearly singled out larger models, which are easier to handle than smaller ones. All the cars had plastic reservoirs, and in some cases, the gas reservoir was punctured.

“It was explained to me that it was done using an electric drill on a stick, which means that this is pure vandalism,” said business student Anas Aboul Hosn. “Whoever did this didn’t intend to steal the fuel – if they did, they would have come prepared and we wouldn’t have had such a big fuel puddle around the car.”

Lebanon’s Oldest Woman Hajja Maimouna Was Born In 1890 And Could Be The World’s Oldest Woman

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oldest

This picture was taken by Omar Ibrahim for Reuters and shows Hajja Maimouna (not Mayssaloun) Al-Amin hugging her great-great-great granddaughter in her home on Mother’s Day in Akkar. Maimouna al-Amin was born in 1890 which makes her 125 years old, while the oldest verified person ever was French woman Jeanne Calment, who died at the age of 122 years, 164 days.

Akkar Maimouna el Amin’s Birth certificate

I’m wondering if anyone bothered to try and verify Hajja Maimouna’s birth certificate because if it is accurate, that would make her the oldest woman in the world. I found this old interview with her and she looks great for a 125 year old! Funnily enough, she even claims to have been born years before.


[YouTube]

The “Museum of Civilizations” Unveiled: Will We See It In Beirut One Day?

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The ‘Museum of Civilizations’ was unveiled yesterday at the Metropolitan Art Society in Achrafieh and the exhibition will go on until April 24 from 11AM till 7PM. As I’ve mentioned before, the project was unveiled by Galal Mahmoud Architects and consists of a museum set in the heart of Beirut and built upon a site sunk deep into the successive strata of the civilizations that underlie Beirut.

I was at the unveiling yesterday and asked around to see if this project will ever come to life. I was told that there are ongoing talks with the related ministries and Beirut’s municipality so nothing is confirmed yet. However, one comment on the picture I posted on Instagram caught my attention as it mentioned that the Galal Mahmoud Project is close to what’s posted on Solidere’s official website under the public spaces section. (Thanks Hassan)

I looked up Solidere’s website and found an open space design from 2005 done by Noukakis & Partners (Greece). Apparently an international design competition was proposed back in 2004 to revive Martyrs’ Square and Noukakis & Partners were the winners. Their proposed museum aims ” to connect the archeological site with existing traditional buildings and “complete” the proposed winning proposal of Martyrs’ Square. To establish this connection, the concept of the building emerges from the lifted corners, public space, court, façade, materiality and construction to address the historic site and embrace the surrounding context, preserving the Martyrs’ axis (open to the sea) and the axis between the two lots to prevent the distortion of visual continuity.” [Source]

th_martyrs-garden via Solidere

It’s good to know that Solidere are planning to have a museum there and I personally prefer Mahmoud’s project to the 2005 one so let’s wait and see what happens.

Here are some pictures I took from the event yesterday:

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3layye wou 3leik: A Platform To Help Implement The New Traffic Law, Stop Wasta & Fix Roads

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During one of the Arabnet panels last week, we had the chance to engage with the people behind the ISF and TMC twitter accounts and most of the tweets that I saw seemed to agree that both accounts are doing a great job online but the story is different on the ground. Everyone is interacting online with the ISF and TMC and sharing pictures of drivers breaking the law, but nothing is really changing offline. Of course there are hopes that the new traffic law would help make things better but a lot of Lebanese are skeptical about it and whether it will be properly implemented or not.

This being said, I had a cool idea few days ago that might help implement this new traffic law as well as fix our roads, while making sure there are no corrupt policemen or citizens trying to abuse the new law. If we look back at previous attempts to enforce traffic law, they all failed because of 4 key issues:

– People don’t trust the cops and the authorities.
– Attempts to enforce traffic laws were usually applied in few regions only.
– Corrupt policemen and drivers were abusing the law to skip the fines.
– The infrastructure and the roads are getting worse.

On the other hand, I strongly believe that there are a lot of decent and competent individuals in the ISF and TMC capable of implementing the law fully, gaining people’s trust and working on enhancing the roads, but in order for that to happen, you need an automated system that is monitored by a small group and that allows engagement between the related parties and the people. What I’m talking about is an app or platform that I randomly called “3layye wou 3leik” and that works that way:

Who will use this platform?

The app will be accessible to 3 types of users:
The Lebanese Driver, who will be able to see his fines and pay them, as well as report violations* (will elaborate on this point next). Drivers will register using their license plate number and their mobile number which are unique.
The Police Officer, who will report violations he sees and fine cars based on a car plate number.
The Traffic Management Center, who will be in charge of validating and approving the fines and violations reported.

How will it work?
The hardest part is coming up with this software and the rest is pretty simple. All officers will be given special devices where they will only be able to write down fines and send them directly to the application where they will stored under a certain driver’s plate number. The officer will have to back his violation with pictures and a video (at a first stage) that will be investigated then approved or declined by the Traffic Management Officer. Once approved, the driver will have to settle the amount online and further sanctions will apply if he’s late or refuses to pay.

Now here’s the interesting part. Drivers will also be able to report violations that they see and document them as well, that way if a police officer is breaking the law, he will also be reported and investigated by the Traffic Management Center. If the violation is validated and approved, then there are three ways to proceed here:

– If the driver has pending fines, he will be able to take out 1 or more, depending on the type of violation he reported.
– If the driver has no fines, then the officer will have to pay the fine.
– If the driver has pending fines yet wants the officer to pay, then he will also have that option.

Aside from violations committed by police officers or army men or politicians, drivers will be able to report violations committed by the municipalities and ministers such as leaving manholes open, not fixing potholes, parking in the wrong places etc. When such issues are reported, the municipality and ministries will have to comply within a set period before they get sanctioned.

This is just a brief description and there are more details to be shared (maybe later), but the idea is that municipalities, police officers and drivers will encourage each other to respect the law in order to escape the fines and there will be a competent and trust-worthy panel to monitor what’s happening and do the right thing. Things may be tricky at first due to the lack of evidence, which is why I recommend setting up cameras at a later stage to eliminate any human intervention and assist the Traffic Management Center. Moreover, traffic judges will have the final say in case any of the app users (driver or cop) wants to appeal a traffic violation.

How will people pay their fines?
This is the easiest part. Since all payments are done online, drivers will be able to track down their fines and points automatically, unlike what’s happening now where we need to waste a whole day just to pay a speeding ticket. As for police officers, army men, politicians, officials, municipality members and ministries, fines will be deducted from their salaries if they refuse to pay and invested in fixing and enhancing roads.

All in all, what I’m proposing is a pragmatic approach to this whole mess we are in, and even though the solution is not an ideal one and needs further brainstorming, I think it would be a great starting point and an effective way to try and implement this new traffic law once and for all. Let me know what you guys think and whether I missed out on some key points or it’s a decent idea.

Lebanesetweets.net : Where Lebanese MPs Tweet Boring Stuff (Except Walid Joumblatt)

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tweets MP Ali Bazzi retweeting a picture of an Indian woman carrying an Englishman in 1903.

Lebanesetweets.net is a pretty cool website set up by my friend Mustapha for indexing and organizing Lebanese tweets done by Lebanon’s Members of parliaments. You can filter out “MP Tweets” by district, sect and party. It’s a nice idea but our MPs tweet mostly boring stuff, except for Joumblatt maybe.

I expect to see journalists, celebrities, bloggers, famous Lebanese tweeps and other online influencers added to that list soon so keep checking it as everything Mustapha puts his hands on becomes useful. He’s the guy behind LebaneseBlogs in case you haven’t heard about it.

PS: This tool makes use of the Nouwweb Api that was created previously to get the latest tweets from the Lebanese Members of Parliament, filtered by relevant criteria.

The First Lebanese Car

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firstlebcar via RaniaelKhatib

I don’t know how accurate this poster is but Lissan Al Hal (in Arabic لسان الحال) was a daily Lebanese newspaper that was established by Khalil Sarkis in the 1870s and is considered as one of the oldest Lebanese publications. This 1960 article is entitled “The First Lebanese Car” and talks about a small vehicle (very similar to a Jeep) that was built using American parts by Younes Motors in Lebanon. It would be interesting to know if this same Younes Motors is linked to the current Rasamny-Younes group and whether they produced or sold any of these cars. I went through Lissan Al Hal’s horrible website but didn’t find anything except recent boring news. According to what I found online, the publication was acquired by the Lebanese National Congress that resumed its publication as a weekly newspaper.

As far as Lebanese cars are concerned, the W Motors Lykan Hypersport is considered as the first Lebanese car ever produced and is currently priced at 3,400,000 US dollars.

After his election and starting 1942, editing of Lisan al Hal was continued by his son Khalil Ramez Sarkis who was also a literary figure and had a series of literary works published. After Khalil Ramez Sarkis, editing and publishing was taken over by Gebran Hayek.[6][7] Bishop George Khodr wrote for the daily in his column called Hadith al Ahad (The Sunday Talk) from 11 March 1962 to 25 January 1970.[8] The newspaper stopped publication during the Lebanese Civil War in the 1970s. [Wiki]

Update: A friend just told me about another Lebanese car made by a guy from Tripoli. The car is called “Spider” and it took 3 years to build and cost $300,000. Mustapha used the body of an Infiniti G35 body and engine and boosted the engine to become a 700HP one. Even though what he did was pretty cool, I didn’t like the car much. Here are some pictures:

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car3

car21 Pictures via ElIktisad

Missing Kid From Marina Dbayyeh’s Mini-Marathon Walked Back To His House In Barja

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Rafic via BMA

A 10 year old kid called Rafic Ahmed Jomaa went missing yesterday around 10:30am during the mini marathon in the La Marina Dbayeh. The Civil Defense and security forces started looking for him only to find out that he walked all the way back to his house in Barja! The child was interviewed by MTV where he confirmed he walked all the way back home. He was visited later on by May El-Khalil, Founder and President of the Beirut Marathon Association.

barja

I’m still finding this story hard to believe because Barja is 45 kilometers away from Dbayyeh and it would take at least 5 or 6 hours to get there from Dbayyeh assuming you know the road well. In all cases, the good thing is that the kid is safe because the road he chose to walk can be quite dangerous in many spots. Nevertheless, the cops and the BMA organization should investigate more thoroughly what happened and how this kid managed to miss his bus and walk the length of a marathon to get back home.

Marathon via BMA

Update: The child’s parents confirmed he didn’t know his way back. That makes the story even more complicated.

[YouTube]

Week20: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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AUB LiveLoveAUB By Ragheb

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram [Here]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [Here] if you like.

Sioufi Green Beiruti house by Inesbey

Eclipse A cool shot of the partial solar eclipse – by Samarhitti

Baskinta Baskinta by elias

Anfeh Angry waves at Enfeh – by JubranElias

Amchit2 Amchit sunset by Nareg

Amchit Jbeil – Amchit from the sky by SleimanCharbel

A Reminder That Migrant Domestic Workers Are Mothers Too

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Racism

We celebrated Mother’s day on March 21 but it also happens to be the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and on this day, MARCH Lebanon invited us to remember the thousands of mothers that came from around the world to work in Lebanon and support their families. There are over 200,000 migrant domestic workers in Lebanon coming from the Philippines, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Ethiopia and working under horrible conditions that sometimes border on modern day slavery. In the past week only, two domestic workers committed suicide yet we barely heard about them or knew why they decided to end their life.

Unfortunately and despite the fact that racism in Lebanon is still widespread, the real problem has always been in the Kafala (Sponsorship) system that hasn’t been abolished yet and allows agencies and households to enslave the domestic workers and mistreat them. KAFA Lebanon once followed the journey of a migrant domestic worker (from Nepal and Bangladesh) from recruitment to working and shed the light on some alarming facts and stats. To list few:

– 69% of domestic workers either borrow money or sell their properties to cover the recruitment and travel fees to Lebanon.
– 96% of domestic workers reported that their passports were confiscated by their employer.
– 64% of the women worked more than 15 hours a day.
– 62% of the workers reported experiencing verbal abuse, 36% reported physical abuse and 8% reported sexual abuse.

We need to end the sponsorship system and give domestic workers the same rights as any foreign worker. It’s about time we stop racism against domestic workers and all foreign workers and refugees in Lebanon. Having said that, we can only hope that this Mother’s day will be the last sad one for Lebanon’s foreign domestic workers but their fight is a long one.

[YouTube]